After the upgrades the Blue Jays made this past offseason, it was easy to see why many were projecting them to be contenders for the postseason. While the club lost Robbie Ray, the front office added Kevin Gausman and Yusei Kikuchi to form a strong rotation that included Jose Berrios, Alek Manoah, and Hyun Jin Ryu.
To replace Marcus Semien, the Jays traded for defensive-minded third baseman Matt Chapman and slid Santiago Espinal and Cavan Biggio back to second base.
In the bullpen, the Blue Jays added three arms in Yimi Garcia, David Phelps, and Andrew Vasquez, with Garcia and Phelps breaking camp with the team for Opening Day.
So far, the Jays bullpen has seen their fair share of action early in the season with some of the Blue Jays starters struggling to pitch deep into games.
Yimi Garcia and Jordan Romano tie for the most games at six apiece while both players tie with Adam Cimber, Trent Thornton, and Ross Stripling for the most innings at six. While Stripling did begin the season in the bullpen, he is now slated to make some starts with Ryu on the IL and was solid during his start against Oakland last Friday.
The Jays bullpen currently owns a collective 3.17 ERA, which has them sitting tied for 15th in the MLB. Merryweather owns two of the losses for this group (one being the two-run home run he gave up late against Oakland) while Garcia earned the loss last night after Bo Bichette’s throwing error eventually ended up scoring and the Jays bats struggled to plate some runs. Funny enough, Cimber currently has the team lead in wins with three.
The Blue Jays bullpen has been tested early and often to begin the 2022 season but is producing well and keeping games close.
Overall, the bullpen has appeared in 52.1 of 96.0 innings so far and only two pitchers have really struggled to begin the season. Tayler Saucedo surrendered four earned runs through two outings during the Opening Weekend against Texas and would be optioned back down to AAA (with Anthony Kay coming up in return) while Merryweather has yet to find his early 2021 form, allowing at least one earned run in three of his five outings.
This year, Cimber and Trevor Richards begin the season in Toronto, as both players were midseason acquisitions after Tyler Chatwood and Rafael Dolis were struggling amongst the rest of the 2021 bullpen group. Trent Thornton has also been a pleasant surprise to begin the season, as he has allowed just the one earned run through his six innings of work. Southpaw Tim Mayza continues to be a strong option from the left side and Ryan Borucki rejoined the club this weekend after beginning the season on the IL.
The Blue Jays relief corps has been used early and often this year and with a tough schedule coming up over the next 19 days, they may be relied upon similar to the beginning of the season, which brings some caution considering the rosters will downsize to 26 players at the beginning of May.
There is also the potential for the bullpen to start becoming burnt out due to overuse, so it will be interesting to see how well the relief pitchers can continue this strong play.